The Nature Conservancy of Canada says a stretch of shoreline on Manitoulin Island in Ontario is now protected land.
The non-profit organization says the 76 square kilometre parcel is one of its largest single-property acquisitions in Ontario to date.
It says the Vidal Bay forests and shoreline property protects 18.5 kilometres of shoreline on Manitoulin Island, on the north channel of Lake Huron.
Esme Batten, the organization's midwestern Ontario program director, says the conservation of Vidal Bay protects habitat for the animals and plants that depend on it.
She says its forest and wetlands also "clean our water and air while providing a place for people to connect to nature now and for generations to come."
The organization notes habitats found on the Vidal Bay property support many at-risk species, including the mottled duskywing, eastern ribbonsnake, wood thrush and Blanding’s turtle.
Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault says protecting and conserving more of Canada’s natural beauty is an important part of the government's plan to address "the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss."
The Vidal Bay property connects with adjacent conservation lands to form a protected area of more than 248 square kilometres of forests, wetlands and shoreline — the largest of its kind south of the Canadian Shield in Ontario, the conservancy group notes.
The organization says the $16-million conservation project was made possible with funding from both the provincial and federal governments, along with many residents, cottagers, businesses and foundations.
It also says it acknowledges the significant, ongoing role of Indigenous peoples on these lands and looks forward to working together to ensure the areas can continue to support "the people with whom they are intertwined."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
The Canadian Press